IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Survey: More firms to add staff

/ Source: Reuters

U.S. employers were more optimistic about hiring staff in the year's first quarter than in the fourth quarter for the first time in five years, a survey said on Tuesday, offering hope to job seekers.

Staffing company Manpower Inc. said employers in nine of the 10 sectors surveyed expect to offer more jobs in the first quarter of 2004 than in the final period of 2003.

But the uptick could be tempered as the number of companies expecting to reduce payrolls is up as well.

"I am not sure it (the job market outlook) requires a standing ovation, but companies have reset their thinking entering the new year and what they are saying is that there is enough demand for products to hire more people," Manpower Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Joerres said.

The world's No. 2 staffing company surveyed more than 35,000 employers in 18 countries in October and provided a detailed analysis of the U.S. job scene.

The seasonally adjusted net employment outlook for January to March, calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers intending to reduce their work force from the percentage of employers planning to add staff, rose to 13 percent from 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Historically, employers tend to hire more in the fourth quarter than in the first quarter and therefore, the picture is reversed when seasonal adjustments are dropped.

Manpower said 20 percent of employers interviewed planned to recruit more staff in the first three months of 2004 compared with 22 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, before seasonal adjustments.

According to the survey, 61 percent of employers surveyed plan to leave current staff levels steady, down slightly from 62 percent in the fourth quarter.

But more employers planned to cut jobs in the first quarter of 2004 (13 percent) than in both the fourth quarter (11 percent) and the first quarter of 2003 (12 percent).

"We are still seeing companies wanting to reconfigure themselves to be more competitive and productive," Joerres said.

However, employers in sectors such as construction, finance and manufacturing said they intend to hire more people in the first quarter. Public administration was the only sector where employers were planning to add fewer jobs than the fourth quarter.

Job prospects in the construction sector were brighter than both the fourth quarter and the year-earlier period. Hiring intentions in the education sector rose for the second consecutive quarter but were not as strong as a year ago, Manpower said.

Recruitment plans in the finance, insurance and real estate industries are expected to be stable. Hiring is expected to be steady in the wholesale and retail trade sector too. But the percentage of employers in this sector planning to reduce their work force rose to 19 percent from 17 percent a year earlier.